Fly fishing

One final round for retired Santa Fe fire chief | Local news

Chief Paul Babcock made his last trip in a fire truck on Thursday, but the trip of his life has been in the previous 32 years.

Babcock retired after a tearful farewell from family, friends, city officials and fellow firefighters, who praised his commitment and professionalism after more than three decades with the service Santa Fe Fire Department – the last three as a leader.

Born and raised in Santa Fe, Babcock joined the department in 1990. In an interview, he said he joined because he felt called to serve his community.

But now, at 55, he says it’s time to spend more time with his family as his three sons enter adulthood.

“The most important thing was my family,” Babcock said. “I have a son in college in California on a campus that I’ve never been to because my career has kept me so busy here. My middle child always wants to go fly fishing; I took it once last summer because I was very busy. And my youngest son is an athlete, football player, who wants to compete wherever he travels.

“My career had just become the priority and it was time for me to put my family first,” he said.

Tears flowed as people said goodbye to Babcock and welcomed Brian Moya as his successor.

“Chief Paul Babcock is both a gentle man and a gentleman – he’s a person whose essential kindness is his greatest strength,” said Kyra Ochoa, director of the city’s Community Health and Safety division.

Mayor Alan Webber said Babcock’s character is one of integrity, empathy and a commitment to serve.

“When you ask what a leader is, I will ask everyone in the room to look at Paul Babcock,” he said at Babcock’s retirement ceremony. “We are so lucky as a community to have a leader like him. “

Babcock’s three sons – Cody, Tyler and William – have each called their father their hero, a man they admire – and look forward to spending more time with them during his retirement.

Babcock has held many positions over the years including Paramedic, Battalion Commander and Deputy Chief. When he started, the department was only voluntary. Now it is a place where careers can develop, he said.

Along the way, the demands have also increased.

Still, Babcock said he was proud of several accomplishments, including the ability to leave a succession plan. Moya, 41, was appointed to succeed him as soon as he announced his intention to retire.

“Having people ready to step in immediately without a big problem… that’s important to me. It has always been important to me, ”Babcock said.

He added that he was pleased with his ability to support the city as it helps homeless and disenfranchised people in Santa Fe, highlighting the launch of the Alternative Response Unit. But he admitted that he had not achieved all the goals, citing the desire to bring more diversity to the department.

Yet his colleagues say his influence will remain.

“Babcock’s advice has been gratifying,” Moya said. “What I would like to keep doing is the three of us [with Assistant Chief Phil Martinez] would still be together almost every day for lunch.

Moya and Babcock burst into tears as they remembered their years together and their relationship. Babcock said it was like handing over the keys to a son.

But Moya has made it clear that he has his own visions for the department.

“My mission and my immediate goal is that we have to fix the bottom before we can continue to develop,” he said. “We have to bring in firefighters, we have to bring in paramedics, we have to make sure everything is taken care of. “

No deputy chief has been appointed to fill Moya’s vacant post, but the appointment will come in early 2022, he said.

While the opportunity to lead the department that has given him so much is daunting without his mentor, Moya said he feels ready to take charge and strengthen a sense of unity in the department.

“It’s something I said, ‘You know what, this is what I want to do,'” he said. “And I never looked back.”